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1932 Chrysler Imperial Speedster

Even during the Great Depression, Walter Chrysler continued an optomistic path in terms of research and development, and in 1931 established Chrysler Engineering's experimental Custom Body Shop. One of the most sensational creations from the body shop was the CH (short-wheelbase), two seater '32 Imperial Speedster.

The design was credited to Herbert Weissinger and was built to experiment with future styling initiatives, and perhaps mount a challenge to the already established Auburn cars.

This one off design was used at many exhibitions and promostions and eventually given to Chrysler's son, Walter P Jr. who owned it for 30 years. The restored car is owned by Sam Mann.

The main body panels were of aluminium and the large wiings included storage compartments. The car had stylish step plates instead of running boards and a racy swept-back, cut-down windscreen and fully concealed folding top all contibuted to the Speedster look.

  click on any image to enlarge

The bonnet of the new car made one smooth line from radiator to windscreen, giving the 'cowl-less' eight cylinder Imperial Speedster the powerful appearance of its 12- and 16-cylinder contemporaries.

With the flowing bonnet design, low windscreen and Chrysler's new reinforced 'double-drop' boxed frame, the Speedsters lines were extremely low giving a distinctive image of grace and speed.

Beneath the car's beautiful skin the power plant also boasted engineering advances. On top of the standard 385 ci straight-eight cast-iron block went an experimental aluminium high-compression head that raised output from 125 to around 160 bhp. The monster was brought to life with a throttle pedal actuated starter with a unique automatic stall restart mechanism.

The Bendix clutch had a dashboard controlled free-wheeling feature with a unique pendulum activated valve which automatically disengaged the clutch in an emergency stop situation. The three speed transmission was coupled to a high ratio back axle.

  The Imperial CH Speedster held a dozen American Automobile Association Contest Board stock-car speed records in its class.  Free-wheeling and an automatic clutch eased shifting helping it accrue these awards. 

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